The college football playoff committee had three extremely easy calls. Despite no unbeatens from the power five conferences, there were three one-loss conference champions who played solid enough schedules to be automatic selections.

The only question left was who would be the fourth team. The Big Ten and Pac Twelve both had two-loss champions, while there were also two one-loss non-champions (Alabama and Wisconsin). Among the conference champions, Ohio State would be the obvious selection ahead of USC due to strength of schedule. Among the one-loss non-champions, Wisconsin and Alabama were comparable - but clearly Ohio State would be picked ahead of Wisconsin so let's focus on that comparison.

The published criteria for determining between "comparable" teams are as follows:

For the sake of argument, let us assume that "comparable" means "equal records", so number of losses would be an implicit fifth criterion.

Ohio State and Alabama did not play each other or any common opponents, so the last criteria are N/A. Ohio State won its conference championship while Alabama did not. And for strength of schedule, a typical ranked team would have lost 3.0 games against Ohio State's schedule but only 1.8 against Alabama's - so we can be a little generous to Alabama and consider the strength of schedule and number of losses to be a wash overall.

Adding it all up, one ends up with two fairly comparable teams, but with one having won its conference and the other not even allowed to play for its conference title. Should be clear-cut choice for Ohio State ... but Alabama was selected. What could have possibly happened?

Overall, the moral of the story seems to be that the college football playoff committee will not adequately consider strength of schedule. So, if you have a tough conference schedule, best to play as many cupcakes as possible. And, memo to the Big Ten - better to follow the SEC's example of playing only eight conference games and add another Mercer to your schedules.

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copyright ©2017 Andrew Dolphin